The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has advanced their Doomsday Clock to two minutes to midnight, citing higher concerns about the risk of nuclear war.
The Doomsday Clock is a metaphor intended to demonstrate how close the world is to Armageddon, according to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists – a group of experts in nuclear weapons, biological weapons and climate change. They consider all of these factors when setting the clock. Doomsday occurs at midnight, so the closer to midnight the clock is set, the more peril they believe the world is in.
The clock was set at two and a half minutes to midnight in 2017. The last time it was at two minutes to midnight was in 1953 – after the U.S. developed the hydrogen bomb.
At a press conference Thursday about their announcement, scientists said that there were a number of reasons why they decided to advance the clock.
Many of these reasons related directly to the Trump administration in the United States. Conflicting policy statements from the U.S. and threats between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was one factor. The Trump administration’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on Climate Change was another.
“We’ve made the clear statement that we feel the world is getting more dangerous,” said physicist and board member Lawrence Krauss.
All major nuclear states have continued to invest in their nuclear arsenals, said one member of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and they are afraid that because of a lack of negotiations between Russia and the U.S. on arms control, that the two countries might be entering a new arms race.
North Korea’s continued nuclear tests also caused the group concern.
In an emailed statement, an anti-nuclear group expressed its concern. “The actions and policies of the nuclear-armed states are winding the Doomsday Clock towards midnight,” said Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.
“We have been lucky to avoid conflict through intentional or accidental means, but recent posturing and the false alarms in Hawaii and Japan show our luck is about to run out if we don’t move quickly. A security based on luck is reckless and foolish; it’s exactly what the nuclear states have now.”